4 Ways Christians Should Be Defiant
Each year, I set myself a word. Last year, it was “generosity” and I spent the year working to grow in the spiritual discipline of generosity. This year, as I prayed over what God wanted me to focus on and what areas of my life and Christian walk he wanted to grow me in, the word that came to mind was “Defiance.”
At first this puzzled me. Defiance in the Christian world seems like a bad thing. Why would God be telling me to grow in defiance?
According to Merriam-Webster, defiance means a disposition to resist : a willingness to contend or fight.
James 4:7 says “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
The word “Resist” is anthistēmi (according to Strong’s concordance) and it means to set one's self against, to withstand, resist, oppose
When I read James 4:7, this is what my heart understands: “Yield to God’s wisdom and obey him, act defiantly against the devil, actively fight or contend against what Satan want you to do, think, or feel and Satan will flee from you because Christ has guaranteed your victory and he-Satan, knows he cannot win.
Defiance also has this connotation of boldness and fearlessness. It’s not just that you have a willingness to fight or resist, it’s that you are bold about it.
I felt like God was leading me down this revelation of what resisting the devil means. See this year I set some pretty big goals for my writing. I set the goal to post a weekly blog, instead of my monthly blog. I set the goal to post a weekly YouTube video (you can check out my feeble attempts at that here) and I set the goal to publish my upcoming novel this year. But doing these things, even though I feel called to them, is terrifying. When I posted my first YouTube video I felt so afraid that I was literally shaking and nauseous at the thought of anyone watching my poorly filmed video.
See, if you are going to step out into the calling God has for you, it’s going to require a warrior mindset. You have a very real enemy who would like to keep you impotent with fear, but God tells us in his word that in order to fully obey him and surrender to his good plans for our lives, we also have to go to war against Satan (James 4:7).
This year I have decided that my feelings are a lie. Every sensation of terror I experience over doing that which God has called me to do (share the gospel and love others) requires my willingness to enter the fray, take up my spiritual armor, and fight back.
If you are going to receive all that God wants to bless your life with, you are going to have to resist the devil: this means you are going to have to take up your sword (God’s Word) and start fighting back. No one is a master warrior the moment they begin to fight, we all have to start at level 0 (as my recent attempts at YouTube videos have taught me). The amazing thing is that Christ has already secured our victory, we need only to show up with a willingness to fight.
So here are a few ways that I hope to grow in defiance in the year 2024.
In order to love someone really well, we have to be willing to fight for healthy boundaries, to fight against misunderstandings, being easily offended, and in order to keep the relationship, we have to fight against life to make the time to show up, and be there for that person, we have to fight against our pride and allow them to be there for us (this is one of my biggest relational weaknesses, I love being there for you, but it makes me feel weak and pathetic to need anything in return). Allowing someone to bless you requires risking vulnerability and sometimes, we have to fight for that.
Defiant love isn’t some mambie-pambie “love is love” that accepts everything and anything the other person wants to do in their own life and to me. Defiant love says, “I am committed to helping you reach your goal of going to Heaven and having a rich and mature relationship with Christ, I love you so much I am going to humbly bring up areas that I think you need support in, I am going to battle for you in prayer, I am going to show up when it’s not always convenient and I am going to choose to love you even when you hurt my feelings, brush against my insecurities, don’t offer as much back in return, or fail to act like Christ.” Choosing defiant love means I am going to choose forgiveness because we deserve the gift of a relationship. Defiant Love is also not choosing to stay in an abusive relationship because you love that person. Instead defiant love says, I am going to risk the relationship to help you learn healthy boundaries and ways of operating. I love you enough to confront you in your wrong behavior.
In order to grow in a business, in a skill or in any area really, we have to risk vulnerability, risk making a mess, risk getting it wrong, risk losing out on time and money, risk being inconvenienced. We also have to choose to risk all of those things even though we might have fear running through our veins and we feel as though we might just have a panic attack. I have chosen to act boldly even when I felt terrified many times and here is what I know for certain: even when my worst fears came to pass and I had to face them head on, they didn’t actually have any real power over me unless I chose to give them power. When I was homeless and in poverty as a new mother I realized that even when the worst happened, God would raise up people to help us and he would never leave me in that despair. When I miscarried my baby, I wondered if I would ever be able to live life again. I wondered if I would stop feeling resentful at God for taking her from us, but even when I faced that worst fear, God was there comforting me, equipping me, and growing me. Fears feel real, but when we walk with God he often makes us face our fears so that he can purge us of them. The bible tells us that his perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18) because he wants us to understand that his love has nothing to do with punishment. It’s easy to see our trials as punishment, but what I have learned is that my trials make me face my fears and when they are over, I don’t have those same fears anymore. When you choose defiant boldness, when you choose to do what you are called to do even though you are deeply insecure or afraid, you begin to see that you are bolder and braver than you once were. Fear has less of a hold of your decisions and choices and you are happier.
Choosing to live a joyful life is easy when things are going well, but when you find yourself in the middle of a storm, when life circumstances are terrifying and you can’t see a way out, this is when you have to choose to wage war of the fear, depression, worry, and anxiety threatening to consume your mind and body and say, “I lay these down at the foot of the cross and I choose to walk in joy”. The bible defines joy as mirth or gladness. (https://www.blueletterbible.org/lexicon/h8057/esv/wlc/0-1/)
This means that in order to walk in defiant joy, I have to choose to laugh throughout my day, I have to choose to find pleasure in my day and to delight in what God has given me this day, because even in the midst of scary life storms, the truth is we are all still incredibly blessed. Life is too short and too precious to allow yourself to wallow in misery when you could be laughing and enjoying your day.
Satan wants us to live weak, impotent and useless lives. If he can get you so fixated on what you don’t have, what skills you aren’t good at, or all of the reasons why you shouldn’t tell people about the good news, or make disciples, then he can keep you from living a purposeful and fulfilling life. But the bible tells us that our obedience to make disciples and proclaim the gospel isn’t about our own merits or goodness, in fact, it’s the opposite. It’s us boasting in our own worthlessness so that God’s goodness and glory will be more evident (2 Corinthians 12). We have to choose each and every day to wage war on all of the lies that are meant to hold us back in life from living a purpose driven life.
I used to think that unless I had something original or perfect to present to the world, then my words weren’t important: that what I had to offer wasn’t worth giving. Maybe you have felt this way too. But here is the truth, God worked countless miracles to create your life and bring you to this day. There isn’t another soul on the planet identical to you. Your perspective and way of seeing the world is so incredibly unique that no one else in the world can say it exactly like you. And what is more, sometimes it takes your unique voice to help another person experience that ah-ha moment with Christ. You matter. Your experiences matter. Your way of seeing the world matters, and when you share your testimony or understanding of Christ with your friends and family, with strangers on the internet or coworkers, you influence and shape their lives.
This year, I am choosing to contend against and resist demonic principalities and lies. I am choosing to show up and wage war on the nonsense infiltrating my culture and community. Not by obnoxiously degrading people or their beliefs, but by proclaiming the good news and sharing the love of Christ. It is my deepest wish that you will join me in this rebellion and wage war against Satan with me.